Growing up in towns and cities, a lot of us can remember those abandoned areas of public land that were reclaimed by nature. Thinking back, we viewed them as unsightly, unkempt and a waste of a perfectly good place to play football. Now, we spend good money and time trying to recreate that heathy, bedhead-style wildflower meadow that nobody had the time of day for 30 years ago. What nature does with no effort can actually be a bit of a nuance when we try to recreate it ourselves, so here’s our quick set of tips on how to plant a wildflower meadow in your own space:
If you’re working with a lighter soil (most of us are) then September is the perfect time to start sowing your wildflower seeds. They germinate quickly, but don’t expect all of them to be in full flower until spring. With heavier soils, you can wait until March to achieve the same results.
You can pick up wildflower seed mixes from most garden centres these days, giving you an ‘all-in-one’ approach to sowing your mini meadow. Frankly we think of these as lucky dips, you’re never quite sure what’s made its way into these bags and that’s part of the joy of wildflowers – isn’t it? Try and find mixes that contain seeds of only British origin for obvious reasons, natives are more likely to get on with surrounding plants and soil types.
Make sure you’ve completely weeded before you sow, and turned or rotated the soil sufficiently. Avoid the use of fertiliser as this will stimulate grasses more than it will wildflowers, and grass has now become a contender in your garden. Which takes us onto our next tip…
Converting a Lawn
Not advised but often asked, converting a lawn into wildflower can take a long time to find the right balance. If it’s your only option, here’s the lowdown:
- Stop using fertiliser, manure and grass feed on the lawn
- Stop using weedkiller and allow those pesky champions to prepare the way for your wildflowers
- Mow deep and often to weaken the grasses
- (At this point, you should start to see some wildflowers establish. Keep going!)
- Add your pot-grown wildflowers into the turf to build a suitable environment for sowing
- Sow sow sow sow sow sow sow sow (and pray.)
As you can see, this is just like trying to achieve that tousled bedhead look on purpose. What happens naturally when you don’t want it to can be really difficult to replicate when you do want it. Stick at it, use the right mixes, fight the grass instead of the weeds and you will slowly start to see a wildflower meadow come to your garden no matter where it is.
Eden Restored is a team of passionate garden designers working throughout London, Kent and Surrey.
We deliver value-for-money on projects of any size, from inner-city courtyards to countryside cottages.
To discuss your ideas and how we can help throughout the entire process, get in touch.